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A PERSON FIXED BY LOVE
by Philip Owen

 

            We noted last week that Thomas Watson observed that a fundamental characteristic of a godly person is that he is moved by faith. By that, Watson meant that faith motivates and empowers every aspect of the life of a godly person. It is not emotion, desire, or even principle or reason, but genuine belief in Christ and every word of truth in the Bible that invigorates his life. His next observation was that a godly person is one who is “fixed by love.” Watson’s use of the word fixed does not involve the more common notion of “repaired” but rather “settled,” or “established.” In other words, he was not suggesting that godliness is demonstrated in a person by the fact that he has been repaired by love but by the fact that he is settled or established in love. If faith is the lever that moves mountains, then love is the unmoving fulcrum on which it rests.
 
            To state that a godly person is fixed by love is not a careless or casual observation. The Apostle Paul noted that we live in a transitory world with transitory values and that many good and valuable things change and even disappear; however, three attributes remain: faith, hope, and charity. And “the greatest of these is charity” (I Cor. 13:13).  One of the distinguishing characteristics of a godly person is that he in anchored in and by the love of Christ.
 
            In the first place, he is saved by love. Surely, all readers know John 3:16, a verse that makes this very point. It is God’s great love that moved Him to provide salvation through the vicarious suffering and death of His Son. Salvation provides the foundation for his being “fixed” or “established” or “settled” in love. Only the redeemed can know, understand, and express love. In the second place, he is secure in love. Having been saved, a believer rests in the certainty that the “God of all love” holds him securely in His hands, unshaken and unshakeable. Nothing within or without unsettles that assurance. Paul’s testimony of the security found in God’s saving love is echoed by every believer: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). In the third place, he is strengthened to love. Writing to the church at Thessalonica, Paul recalls their “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (I Thes. 1:3). Such is the force of saving love that it moves those who are saved and godly to exhibit the nature of Christ, giving themselves to the same sort of selfless work on behalf of others that characterized the Lord as He walked on earth.
 
            This love is not mere empty emotionalism or sweet sentimentality. It is established and settled in the holy, uncompromising character of God—a God who is not willing that any should perish but who also “will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nah. 1:3). A godly man loves with a love that will utterly exhaust itself for the benefit of another but will not wink at sin. He will encourage the weak and wavering, but he will exhort the wayward. When many faint or when others fail, he will continue faithful because “charity never faileth” (I Cor. 13:8).
 
            In the godly person, there is a certainty of character, a perseverance in performance, and a constancy in attitude that genuinely reflects the fact that he has been “rooted and grounded in love” and has come to “know the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:17, 19). Love is not a theory, a principle, or an ideal to the godly person: it is the essence of his life. He “walk[s] in love” (Eph. 5:2) as surely and unwaveringly as he breathes. He “keepeth his word” because “in him verily is the love of God perfected” (I John 2:5).

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